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Is Lance Berkman a Hall of Famer?

May 23, 2012, 2:00 PM EDT

World Series Rangers Cardinals Baseball

There have been several times over the past 12 years or so when Lance Berkman has certainly felt like a Hall of Famer. In the moment, anyway, as he went on tears and put up seasons that matched up with all manner of men in Cooperstown.

But, given that he didn’t have a full time gig until he was 24 and given that he seems to be hitting the end of the road after only 14 seasons — some of them shortened due to injury — it seems pretty likely that Berkman won’t get a lot of love when he becomes eligible for voting.  The counting stats just aren’t there and, no matter what we think of counting stats, they matter and always have for the Hall of Fame.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate someone who is an inner-circle Hall of Very Gooder, and yesterday David Schoenfield of ESPN.com did just that.  And while David himself can’t convince himself of Berkman’s Hall-worthiness, he does a great job of reminding us just how good a hitter the dude was (and still is, if he comes back from his injury):

So where does that leave us?

• A player who was one of the elite hitters of his generation.
• Ten Hall of Fame-caliber seasons, plus a great partial season in 2000 (.297/.388/.561 in 114 games) and a not-so-great 2010.
• A terrific postseason performer.
• A player who didn’t win an MVP Award but fared well in the voting.

…It’s interesting to compare him to his one-time teammate, Jeff Bagwell, who obviously isn’t in the Hall of Fame (for some reasons we all know about) but whom many of you and in the stat community believe is a no-brainer Hall of Famer …

I’ve probably contributed an awful lot to this, but I sort of hate that Hall of Fame discussions often result in people denigrating the careers of those who fall just short. Making the perfect the enemy of the good as it were.  Good for Schoenfield for celebrating the good.

  1. chiadam - May 23, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    No ****ing way. Is this something we have to answer every time an above average player walks away? He has fewer than 2,000 hits. He has under 1,200 RBI. He has under 400 homers. He stole 85 bases in 14 years and was (maybe) an average defender. He won a ring, but he was never the best player on a championship team. It’s the Hall of Fame, people. The Hall of Fame. Arguing that Lance Berkman deserves in for hitting well in the best hitting era of all time is completely absurd.

    • deadeyedesign23 - May 23, 2012 at 8:48 PM

      Considering how every January there’s the standard article making fun of the few voters who have Mattingly on their list there’s no reason to consider Berkman.

  2. jwbiii - May 23, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    Of unenshrined first basemen of recent vintage, is he really better than Fred McGriff? Will or Jack Clark? John Olerud or Keith Hernandez? Certainly not Jeff Bagwell. Rafael Paleiro and Mark McGwire are kind of off the table for discussion, but weren’t they better, too?

  3. iclight79 - May 23, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    Berkman, to me, is actually quite a bit similar to Albert Belle in terms of this discussion. Their stats are nearly identical, both are perennial All-Stars and both had injury problems that killed their Hall of Fame chances. Part of being in the Hall, to me at least, is longevity. I don’t like the “Hall of very good” argument for Berkman, or Belle for that matter. Both were great, just not for long enough.

    • iclight79 - May 23, 2012 at 11:57 PM

      Allow me to add that there are a few occasions when longevity gets blown away by dominance. For instance, Koufax had a short career and really wasn’t all that great save for like six seasons. But those six seasons he was so dominant you have to include him in the Hall. Berkman never came close to that level of domination.

  4. jeffa43 - May 24, 2012 at 12:53 AM

    You forget he is a switch hitter… He broke Pete Rose record for xbase hits in a season, doubles..
    Until 2010 he had the highest slg% career for a switch hitter, in history..
    If he comes back and hits 400 hr’s he is in. Lifetime 300, and could finish as a dh in Houston … That could add a few years..
    And a bunch more rib eyes…

    Anyone notice Bagwell dominated an era? He and the hawk are on the same path for HOF % …
    Bags will get in, and deserves it.

  5. vallewho - May 24, 2012 at 1:04 AM

    No

  6. godcanfirealdavis - May 24, 2012 at 6:32 AM

    If Larry walker and don mattingly can’t get in then berk doesnt belong…..

  7. dexterismyhero - May 24, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    No for Berkman and Bagwell.

  8. jwag777 - May 24, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    The college baseball HoF maybe. Are you serious? Need more than “elite”, “great”, or “terrific”. Numbers, numbers, numbers….and he doesn’t have them. You should be embarrassed starting a thread like this…..

  9. materialman80 - May 24, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    If he’s not, he’s dam close….

  10. sabatimus - May 29, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    Nope. Next.

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